Ancient People

Historically, present-day Sudan is part of the region of Kush (a kingdom in Upper Nubia), a crossroads between Egypt and other parts of Black Africa in the Hebrew Scriptures. Ancient Egyptians knew it as Kush, the Greeks as Ethiopia (the Greeks, including the fifth-century historian Herodotus, referred to all of the lands between the southern Nile and India as Ethiopia), and the Romans as Nubia. It is referred to in the Bible as Havilah (Genesis 2:11). Egypt, according to 19th-century scholar George Rawlinson in a footnote to Herodotus, was called Khem, Kam, or Ham, “the black land.” Before Herodotus and in biblical times, the black “Ethiopians” who lived in the southern belts of the Nile were understood to be descendants of Kush, Ham’s oldest son (Ham was Noah’s youngest son).

We can therefore to a certain degree extrapolate culturally, and by extension linguistically, the relations between some African cultures and ancient Egypt. Hoffman observes that “it is hard to avoid the more intangible features of culture which historians tell us helped make Egypt unique among the states of the ancient world. Perhaps the single most distinctive trait of ancient Egyptian civilization was the concept of divine kingship.” Hoffman postulates that “the institution of divine kingship, therefore, was an Egyptian (specifically, Upper Egyptian) invention and need not be relegated to a general ahistorical limbo or substratum.” The kingship in dynastic Egypt was the most powerful institution that held its people together as a homogeneous entity.

Gardiner notes, “Since it is generally agreed that the oldest population of Egypt was of African race, it might be expected that their language should be African too. And in fact many
affinities with Hamitic and in particular with Berber dialects have been found, not only in vocabulary, but in verbal structure and the like.” Elsewhere Gardiner writes, “Whatever may be said of the northerners, it is safe to describe the dwellers in Upper Egypt as of essentially African stock, a character always retained despite alien influences brought to bear on them from time to time.”

The ancient culture linked to the Stone Age people who occupied the Sahara was essentially African. And Frankfort adds, “It is held, even today, by the Baganda–people who, at least in their Hamitic traits, are related to the

ancient Egyptians,” that a person’s ka, (“kra” in the Twi language) or soul, is his twin, a belief extant in many west African cultures. Also, the people of Ife are believed to have come from Western Sudan and might have gained knowledge of metalwork from the Kushites. In effect, it can arguably be pointed out that some ancient indigenous customs of Egypt were mostly derived from northeastern parts of Africa, while their filtered and sanitized forms found their way into old western African cultures.

As an example of how some contemporary African practices influenced by ancient Egypt seem to have confused Gardiner in his great work, he writes in one spot: “A man named Amenhotpe who had the rank of ‘First King’s Son of Akheperkare (Praenomen of Tuthmosis I) was not a real son, because both his parents are named; it is of interest to mention him here, since this instance illustrates the principal difficulty in dealing with Egyptian genealogical problems; one never knows whether terms like ‘son’, ‘daughter’, ‘brother’, ‘sister’, and so forth are to be understood literally or not.” An Akan, or for that matter an African, would instantly understand Gardiner’s dilemma.

A “King’s Son” would not necessary be a blood son of the king. Even in present-day Akan, a servant, an
adopted child, or a subordinate who had earned the trust and confidence of royalty could be designated a “King’s Son” and trusted or assigned to an important or sensitive position. Thus, a “King’s Son of Cush” — when Nubia was a province of Egypt — would mean a king’s representative or governor of Cush without any blood relation between the king and the Son.

Elsewhere, Gardiner again faces a cultural conundrum when he points out, “Twice before in Egypt’s earlier history

a queen had usurped the kingship, but it was a wholly new departure for a female to pose and dress as a man.” Here also we can solve and explain the riddle by looking at contemporary Akan culture. Not only do Akan queen mothers who assume the kingship dress as men, with war regalia et al, but they assume the male equivalent of the female name.

It has been suggested in some academic circles that the early Pharoahic state was established by Nubian conquerors. There were several ethnic groups in Nubia, including the kingdom of Kush (with Kerma, 800 km south of Thebes, as its capital), whose cultural influences from Egypt cannot safely be underestimated.

That Pharoahic Egypt was familiar with the lands in Nubia is evident from hierographic inscriptions and texts of Thutmosis I and III (1530-1440 BC) found just 350 miles from Khartoum. Some from Nubia had had relationships and contacts in pre-dynastic to early dynastic Egypt, and the hypothesis that Egypt was basically established by people from the “south” is gaining currency.

Cosmopolitan Egypt was first ruled by its own natives, then the Hyskos, the Libyans, the Kushites, the Assyrians (670 BC), the Persians (525 BC), the Ptolomies under Alexander the Great and the Macedonian kings (332 BC), the Romans (30 BC), and the Arabs starting in 642 AD. According to the Bible, Ham’s four sons populated most of northern and northeastearn Africa: Kush (Upper Nubia) in Ethiopia; Phut or Put in Punt in or around modern-day Eritrea or even in Southern Sudan; Mizraim in Egypt; and Canaan in Palestine/Israel. Understandably, the brothers settled fairly near one another.

In the writing of Manetho, prior to the

establishment of the First Dynasty, we encounter the Shemsu Hor, a group of the Falcon Clan (the Oyoko is of the Hawk, considered cousins to the Falcon family) who had migrated from their original home in the West Delta region to conquer and form a kingdom in Upper Egypt.

Bauval and Brophy in their scholarly work Black Genesis, point out that Pharoahic Egypt knew of the existence of sub-Saharan black people and had made contacts with them in the Middle Kingdom, circa 2000 BC. Tracing the origin of mankind, Bauval and Brophy postulate that “the early modern humans of east Africa moved northward into Chad and settled in the Tibesti-Ennedi highlands.” Neolithic sites of Ennedi and Tibesti in eastern Chad date between 6000 and 4000 B.C. Gardiner tells us that, during the Middle Kingdom, the population of Elephantine, the capital of Upper Egypt, “was no doubt partly of Nubian race.”

Of the Kushites, John Taylor’s chapter in the Oxford History of Ancient Egypt describes them as the “southern physiognomies, dark skin-colouring” of ethnic features of the Kushites. And Elizabeth Payne, in The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, asserts, “The bones and artifacts they contained showed that the ancestors of the Pharaohs’ had been a small, slender people with dark, wavy hair.”

Some 3,000 years later, according to Payne, Egyptians were still described “with dark hair and reddish-brown skin.” It must be understood that the late pictures of Egyptian royalty that have come to us were not those of the indigenes.

The author is the editor of Amandla

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Posted by on Nov 13 2020. Filed under Artcultainment. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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